I wandered through her face until
it grew abstract as a map,
with lightly drawn roads
& rivers in faint blue,
blank spaces where hills separated
zones of resource extraction,
quarry-holes for sound & for scent,
the settling ponds
of an unsettling color
& at the bottom of the map,
a beltway in red: here
the skyline of incisors
& the dark & pulsating
inner city beyond.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).


  1. Woo, Dave, very nice. I was going to say the subject is unlike you, but then I realized it’s a landscape after all.


  2. I wonder if the map had been in a wilderness location what images would have emerged.

    Is it the particular face that determines the map location… or something else.


  3. Hi, Dale.

    Thanks, Leslee. It was a challenge to see if I could use the newspeak phrase “zones of resource extraction” in a poem! I don’t want to keep sounding like myself, you see.

    Shai – Maybe just the desire to stretch the genre (blason) a bit. This wasn’t based on any particular person (or any particular drug trip). But maybe I’ll try wilderness another time.


  4. Hey Dave, I’ve been on a paleontology tour. Skulls are a big deal in paleontology, how many and what kinds of holes they have. So too teeth.


  5. Oh, Jeez, I’m reading this again. It made a big impression on me, but I never really got why, maybe because I never got it figured out spatially. I do tolerate a good amount of uncertainty, almost view it as resource, like a contractor who has jobs lined-out years in advance who knows he won’t soon be out of work. Today, for the first time I read the “I” as a flesh-eating beetle—what else could travel through a face? The sky-line of incisors was problematic until I turned the deceased’s open mouth into the earth. Eii! It reads much better this way, the settling pools and quarries for extraction have really taken on new life in this scene of death and decay. It reads as a scathing commentary on the relation of the abstract to the visceral. This seems like the sort of thing you might want to say. Weirdly enough, I am still not entirely certain I have got your meaning right, so the job is unfinished, no one goes home, nobody looses a job — there’s still work to do.


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